How 6 Group Saved Christmas

6 Group was contacted by North Pole Ventures following concerns from the organisation’s Chief Christmas Officer (CCO), Mrs. Claus, that the festive season was in real danger of not going ahead.

The demands of the market, namely a year-on-year increase in the production of gifts and continually advancing toy technology, had resulted in a significant strain on the North Pole Ventures (NPV) workforce and left no room for innovation.

What’s more, Mrs. Claus had expressed worry for the general wellbeing of the company’s CEO, Father Christmas. Heightened operational pressures were taking their toll on the company’s leader and resulting in tremendous levels of stress.

To instigate a transformational change for the organisation, Mrs. Claus invited 6 Group to NPV’s HQ to meet with the Seasonal Leadership Team (SLT), comprising the CEO, CCO and Workshop-erations Director.

A Frosty First Gathering

From the meeting’s outset, we were met with fierce reluctance to change from Father Christmas. A leader very much set in his ways, he insisted that supplementing the workforce with a sizeable intake of Elves to see the company through the approaching festive period would suffice.

This sparked an icy debate amongst the SLT about the long-term sustainability and growth of the organisation, after which 6 Group was asked to present their ideas.

What we proposed:

  • The need for a large-scale assessment to measure existing Christmas Capability amongst the workshop Elves and identify precise Winter Workforce requirements
  • Rigorous sessions with the SLT to redefine the company’s Merry Mission and formulate an Organisational Tree-design to optimise the company’s Human/Elf Capital
  • Based on the outcomes from the two stages above, a Holiday Hiring campaign would be designed and managed by 6 Group

Our suggested approach was well-received, but Father Christmas would require a little more convincing. We were given permission by the organisation to undertake an initial research phase to fully understand the issues at hand and present this back to the SLT.

Exploring the Mood Amongst the Elves

6 Group held anonymous one-to-one interviews with a group of top-performing Elves to identify key issues within NPV. We considered the Elves as the best source for our research given their day-to-day experiences in the workshop.

Below are some of the themes identified:

A not-so-jolly employer brand: The vast majority of Elves said they had lost their pride in working for Father Christmas. Word of this had spread across the North Pole and onto multiple social media channels such as FrostedGlassdoor.

A Christmas-less culture: NPV’s longstanding mission ‘to produce the best possible toys for the most deserving girls and boys’ had become tired resulting in a diminished impact amongst the Elf workforce.

A turkey of technical capability: The quality of the toys had deteriorated over the years. This was partly because of an overstretched manufacturing process but predominantly attributed to NPV hiring Elves lacking the required technical skills.

The findings were collated and presented to the SLT. It presented a stark, unvarnished reality which provoked astonishment amongst the business leaders – none more so than with Father Christmas himself, who proclaimed:

“Get back to your offices and assemble your team, let’s get this change moving at full steam!”

A Solution for Old St. Nick

Put the Elves under the mistletoe microscope

The first stage was a rigorous technical and behavioural assessment of the existing Elf workforce. It was clear from initial research that toy creation had been in decline for some years, therefore, identifying key problem areas was critical.

For the technical assessment, 6 Group’s Associate Consultant, the Easter Bunny, was brought in to facilitate the process. The Bunny had single-handedly built a chocolate egg manufacturing business which served billions worldwide and has only ever held outstanding customer satisfaction (who doesn’t love chocolate!?). Each Elf was assessed by the Bunny and given their own Personal Development Present (PDP).

For the behavioural assessment, we defined a set of competencies in collaboration with NPV. The competencies we assessed were; 1) Christmas Commitment, 2) Present Perfectionist and 3) Ice-Cold Innovation.

Organisational Tree-Design

Following the assessment, 6 Group held a clear picture of where the strengths and weaknesses were within the Elf cohort. It was discovered that over one-fifth Elves lacked the technical capabilities required to consistently produce outstanding gifts. There was also notable development needed across the three behavioural competencies.

In response to this, 6 Group conducted an Organisational Tree-Design to accommodate new recommended positions in the organisation. These appointments would serve as a driver for continuous development and Elf engagement for the long-term future of NPV.

Head of Ribbons & Decorations (R&D): Responsible for collating market intelligence on the latest in toy innovation and communicating this with Father Christmas, the CCO and Toy Production Trainer.

Toy Production Trainer: Accountable for upskilling the Elves’ technical capabilities through regular development sessions held in the workshop. The Trainer will use the PDPs developed by the Easter Bunny to create coaching programmes which are strongly suited to the needs of the workforce.

Caroling Communications Manager: Responsible for keeping Elf engagement at an optimal level. The role will be tasked with developing an internal communications framework including a weekly newsletter (‘The Partridge Post’), a rebranding of the workshop, an Elf Engagement Survey etc. all of which will be underpinned by the three desired behavioural competencies of North Pole Ventures and a newly developed mission statement; ‘To always make each Christmas better than the last‘.

Holiday Hiring

Searches for Santa’s Team

After proposing the Organisational Tree-design to the Seasonal Leadership Team, 6 Group was commissioned to conduct three search assignments to identify snow-loving candidates to be appointed to the newly created positions.

The biggest challenge for the searches would undoubtedly be finding candidates willing to relocate to the North Pole. However, the opportunity to be part of an organisation which is responsible for delivering happiness to billions every year would be a major selling point.

To effectively communicate this information and more, 6 Group produced an NPV-branded candidate briefing document for each role. The document comprised a compelling narrative about the organisation’s history, their vision and the freshly reworked mission. It also included a statement from Father Christmas, tailored for each role, which highlighted the pivotal nature of each position.

The candidates who were identified through our global mapping activities as meeting the functional requirements underwent a background-checking and screening process. This included the use of Father Christmas’ ‘naughty or nice‘ list. Those deemed ‘nice’ subsequently underwent a behavioural competency assessment using the three desired behaviours of NPV.

The final stage of the search process was an invitation to the North Pole for a face-to-face interview with Father Christmas and his CCO.

Engaging the Toy-Building Talent

To combat the under-Elved manufacturing process, 6 Group recommended a high-volume hiring campaign. Earlier research had suggested that an additional 250 Elves would be required to ensure an effective production capability for next Christmas and Christmases in the mid- to long-term.

Given the volume of Elves required, a spirited sourcing strategy was needed. The plan comprised an Elf referral scheme, social media promotion on channels such as FrostBook and Icygram, and open days at the workshop.

6 Group also highly recommended empowering diversity & inclusion within the process by looking beyond the usual Elf demographic. This included engaging reformed Trolls who were seeking to make a positive change in their lives. Historically, the Troll community has held a negative reputation but possess strong technical capabilities acquired through spending centuries constructing bridges to hide under.

Candidates who passed an initial technical assessment progressed to an assessment centre facilitated by both the Easter Bunny and the newly appointed Toy Production Trainer.

'Tis the Season to be changing

The North Pole Ventures transformational programme was delivered ahead of schedule and before the intensive operational activities were due to begin.

Notable outcomes included:

  • Full onboarding of 250 new workshop staff  – this included a Toy-Producers Talent Pipeline to ensure optimal workshop staffing levels for the mid to long-term
  • Appointment of the three new hires critical to NPV’s development, its workshop capability and organisational-wide engagement
  • Introduction of a reindeer succession plan due to an approaching era of retirement in NPV’s Logistics Division
  • Development of a competency assessment framework for future hires in line with the assessment criteria used in the change project
  • Formation of a new training programme by the Easter Bunny to be used routinely by the Toy Production Trainer with workshop staff

The newly revitalised North Pole Ventures has stated it looks forward to delivering one of the best Christmases in history.



You may be shocked to learn that the series of events detailed above may have been fabricated by us…

We’re not saying it didn’t happen, but we’re also not saying it did.

Regardless, we hope this festive tale of transformation gave you a good insight into how we work with clients – from pole to pole, from Lapland to Wellington, we partner with organisations to ensure they achieve real change through our three core capabilities;

From everyone at 6 Group, we wish you a wonderful holiday season.

If you’d like to schedule a time to speak to us about any of your plans in the New Year, get in touch using the contact form below. Alternatively, you can email us at or call +44 (0)161 926 4320.

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